San Antonio Enacting Law Concerning Background Checks for Private Home Healthcare Workers

If a home healthcare worker or aid comes into your home to oversee an elderly family member or relative, how much do you know about this individual? Background checks concerning home healthcare workers have been a contentious issue in several states. Over the past two years, California’s approach was too disorganized, Michigan considered reducing the amount conducted, and Rhode Island and Connecticut strived to expand theirs.

In San Antonio, Texas, a gap between state and private home healthcare workers was exposed recently after a man was murdered by his aid. After this incident, the city’s police chief and councilman put together an ordinance regarding mandatory background checks for private home healthcare workers.

Currently, such individuals are exempt from state licensing requirements, while the law requires background checks for state employees only, including those through certified agencies and boarding home facilities.

What changes would occur, should the ordinance go into effect? Rather than just starting work, the privately-employed healthcare worker would be expected to register with the city. From there, he or she would be issued an identification card and agree to a background check. For the individual being taken care of and family members potentially hiring a private aid, the identification card would provide more information about the individual and allow for greater peace of mind.

Having an outside party enter your home is a significant risk. Having such an individual – one you are moderately but not thoroughly familiar with – take care of you or a family member is an even greater risk. As the murder, which involved an elderly man employing a former student, then homeless, as a caretaker, in San Antonio shows, even those somewhat familiar still might not be trustworthy, and as a result, an employment and even periodic employee background checks are even more than warranted.

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